Independent Regulatory Agencies Can Reduce Paperwork Burden on Industry

AFMD-81-70: Published: Jul 7, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1981.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO reviewed the progress being made by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), and the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in reducing the accounting and financial reporting burden on industries that they regulate. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 was enacted to improve the way the Federal Government collects, uses, and disseminates information. Among other significant provisions, the new law gives the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) authority to review and clear all independent regulatory agency reporting and recordkeeping requirements and requests.

Some independent regulatory agencies are collecting information that they neither need nor use. Such unneeded information is being collected because most agencies have no effective reports clearance process to screen requests for data. The reports clearance process, which was intended to be a screening device to preclude the collection of unneeded information, has not worked well in most of the agencies GAO reviewed. Despite legislation which limits Federal agengies' information collection to that which is necessary for the proper performance of their functions, some agencies collect information for private parties even when the information is not needed for Federal Government purposes. Regulatory agencies realize that small companies have less impact than large companies on their industries and that the burden of complying with accounting and financial reporting is relatively more difficult for smaller companies. This has led these agencies to establish graduated reporting requirements, but the benefits of graduated reporting are not being fully realized because the agencies have not adequately addressed the effects of inflation on reporting requirements. Agencies require regulated companies to retain certain records for specified periods of time because the records contain evidence of financial and legal commitments. GAO found that agencies are requiring companies to retain records for periods longer than necessary because retention requirements are: (1) not based on agency needs; (2) outdated; and (3) vague about which records are to be retained and for how long.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should require the CAB, FCC, FERC, FMC, and ICC to strengthen the reports clearance function in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 as a means of verifying the need for the information being collected.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should require the CAB, FCC, FERC, FMC, and ICC to effectively implement the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 by limiting the collection of information to that which is necessary for the proper performance of Federal Government functions.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should require that the CAB, FCC, FERC, FMC, and ICC make better use of graduated reporting by addressing the effects of inflation on class size and by basing class size on the agency's need for the information rather than on an arbitrary designation.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should require the CAB, FCC, FERC, FMC, and ICC to increase the effort and attention given to record-retention programs, especially to revising requirements so they reflect the agency's current need for records and restating record descriptions and retention periods to remove vagueness and ambiguity.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 28, 2016

Sep 27, 2016

Sep 26, 2016

Sep 23, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Aug 30, 2016

Aug 11, 2016

Jul 22, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here